Every writer knows a thing or two about bad advice, and Aaron Goldfarb has collected more than his fair share. Rather than create a happy-go-lucky antidote to all of this knowledge on how to screw yourself over, though, the native New Yorker gathered it all up and wrote the world's first Self Hurt Guide, so that we can all get in on the action. We caught up with Goldfarb at Minetta Tavern (nope) to talk about his literary influences (not exactly), and the the joy of doing a 30 day book tour through 30 bars (that one's Bible truth).
SCOUT: Let's start with the basics: Which author, living or dead, would you want to get drunk with, and on what?
AARON: I'd like to play beer pong with Jonathan Franzen. Maybe he'd smile for once.
SCOUT: I feel like he'd be stiff competition. So, what made you want to be a write?
AARON: I was born in Manhattan, grew up in Oklahoma City, and boomeranged back to the east coast to go to college at Syracuse and eventually chase my dreams in Manhattan. I started writing short stories when I was 5 because I was bored in class. I started getting paid for writing in my early twenties when a future reality show star asked me to pen her college entrance essay and I was hard up for cash!
SCOUT: What was the impetus behind writing How to Fail, specifically?
AARON: How to Fail is the world's first self-hurt guide, the opposite of a self-help guide. It's really a satirical novel about success in New York City. The impetus was me being sick of seeing self-help books written by people who had never achieved anything in life besides writing a self-help book. I figured I could offer just as terrible of advice as them!
SCOUT: Did you pull from real life? What's the worst advice you've ever gotten?
AARON: Save yourself for marriage. Drink responsibly. Always wear a suit to a job interview.
SCOUT: I know that instead of touring bookstores, you took How to Fail out through 30 bars. How'd that happen?
AARON: In the year leading up to my How to Fail's release, I was going to a lot of author readings around New York, nearly every single night just to scout out the scene. And most of them were boring me to tears. The authors looked incredibly bored too. So, I figured, there has to be a better way than the typical bookstore signing route. Any time I say "there has to be a better way," I usually just add alcohol to the mix. Boom: 30 Bars in 30 Days. If I was going to tour the country selling books, I at least wanted beer nearby at all times in case I got bored. I rarely got bored. I often got drunk.
SCOUT: Did you have any serendipitous moments at any of the stops?
AARON: Oh, I met plenty of crazies, but luckily crazies love to shell out for How to Fail. My favorite crazy was a self-proclaimed cougar in a hot pink sweatsuit who ran into the bar shouting "Where's Goldfarb?!," shoving people in line out of the way before asking me to sign another author's book called Tickle My Pickle: Your Hands-On Guide to Penis Pleasing.
SCOUT: Now that you're back on home turf, what's a perfect day in New York look like for you?
AARON: I wake up at sunrise and go for a jog around the Central Park Reservoir. Brunch at Lanksy's, a movie at the Landmark, an art exhibit, dinner at Minetta Tavern, the Yankees up in the Bronx--I'm lying. I'm too lazy for that. The real answer is probably just bellying up to the bar at Rattle 'n' Hum and drinking rare beer all day. Yeah, I probably don't get as much culture out of New York as I should.
SCOUT: What's on the horizon for you, workwise?
AARON: Working on getting "How to Fail" turned into a movie and trying to find an offer I like. My short story collection about the sexes, sex, and sexiness in New York City, The Cheat Sheet, comes out in paperback on June 28. On June 23 I'll be speaking as part of Gelf's Non-Motivational Speaker Series at Pacific Standard in Brooklyn and you should come out.